2014 – The Year Ahead

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As I sit here in Jury Duty at the Bexar County Courthouse, I figured this is as good a time as any to talk about my plans for 2014 and 1337 Wine. And instead of doing a recap of 2013, I thought I’d rather look ahead to 2014.

2013 overall was a good year for the site. I experienced some difficult personal issues with my Mother passing away in April and dealing with that internally for the rest of the year. My production for the site declined due to that and not having a lot of time with my “day job” and preparing for the Certified Sommelier Exam which I passed in August. I took some time off after the exam and felt like the dog who caught the car he was chasing. Now what?

Last month I decided to renew my effort with the website this year. I hope to take the Advanced Sommelier Exam in 2015. This may not happen until 2016 however. Now you apply for a course and have to be accepted into it. Once you’ve completed the course you have 3 years to pass the exam. They only offer one course per year, so I’ve already passed the deadline to apply for this year’s course. So 2015 will be the earliest I can take the course.

This website started as a diary of sorts of my wine studies. First for the Introductory Exam, and then for the Certified. My goal was to pass the Certified Exam. Once I achieved that, I kind of had a “what now?” moment. I enjoy doing my wine reviews. The fact that I have as many viewers as I do have is amazing to me. Still.

While I don’t get thousands, tens of thousands, or more views per show, I still get a significant amount of viewers. Some shows do get into the 4-digit range of views. But this isn’t my living. I won’t go into exactly how much money is made of the site, but suffice to say, I don’t earn a living from it. And I’m OK with that. By the way, here’s your cue to click that PayPal button to the right to give me a donation. Go ahead, it’s OK. 🙂

It was at this point I got called to a jury panel during my jury duty. It ended up that our panel was dismissed and never even entered the courtroom. The parties settled at the last minute. This actually happens fairly often from what I understand. This happened last time I had jury duty here in San Antonio.


So how am I going to use the site for my studies? Continue to review wines as always. The educational segments in the regular episodes will still be at an Introductory/Certified level. I see the return of Sommelier School to tackle the Advanced stuff. I plan on it being bi-weekly.

Episode 300 is another major event for the site. Let that sink in. 300 episodes. In TV years that’s 11 1/2 years. More than the vast majority of TV shows. All self-produced. I don’t have a staff. I don’t have partners or sponsors. No cameraman, audio engineer, editor, etc. For those of you new to the show, it literally started with a Flip Cam on a tripod sitting at the dining room table. Over the years it has become, in my opinion, the best produced independent wine show on the internet/TV. I’m not saying my content is the best (there are others just as good and maybe even better), just the production of the show.

Episode 300 will hopefully be in front of a live audience and live-streamed. This will be the first time I’ve done a review in front of a live audience. I’ve done some live-streaming before just to do it and learn what not to do. As for the venue? It’s something I haven’t finalized yet. I’ve approached a couple places about doing it and they’ve been open to doing it. It’s just the format. A straight wine tasting is a possibility. However, I’d really like to do a wine and food pairing. A restaurant will be the easiest for me. I wouldn’t need to supply anything, and they can charge whatever they want to cover the costs. If I did it elsewhere, I will have a fair amount of out-of-pocket expenses and may not be able to recover them depending on the venue. This setup would make it almost certainly a wine only event.

When would this occur? Some time in March or April. Much of it does depend on my personal schedule, but I plan on having an episode every week starting next week. I’m at 288 right now. My target date is between 3/31 – 4/14. Most likely on a Monday night.

These two things are the biggest goals for the site. So what else do I want to do with it? I’ve toyed with the idea of redesigning the site. I’ve checked out a few WordPress templates (I use WordPress for my site currently). There are a couple promising ones, but I’ve not decided on exactly what I want. By the way, my hosting company is a local company called Pressable (formerly Zippy Kid). If you are looking for a reliable and responsive WordPress hosting company, check them out. I’ve not been compensated for mentioning them by the way (I think there’s some kind of legal requirement for me to mention that). I know many of the employees personally and consider them friends so I do have a bias 😉

I’ll also visit some more Texas wineries some time this year. I hope to revisit Messina Hof in Bryan soon. They’ve invited me back so I want to get out there as soon as I can. They have been very supportive of me and I thank them. Pedernales Cellars is also another Texas winery that has been very supportive of me so I hope to visit them soon too. Even if it’s just to stop by and not do a show per se. There are some other wineries in the Hill Country I have yet to visit that I’ve been in contact with too. And then there’s West Texas wineries. Some good stuff coming out of that part of the state too.

Other wine-related stuff. I hope to “get the band back together” meaning the study group here in San Antonio. I know there are at least two people interested. One is my friend Ceci who was in the group before. The second one will be new to the group. I also plan on visiting Austin once a month or every other month to get some mentoring from the Advanced and Master Sommeliers that live there. Not that there aren’t any Advanced Sommeliers here in San Antonio (I think there’s only one), but I’ve gotten to know the Advanced and Masters in Austin fairly well. Plus, I like visiting Austin and seeing friends while I’m there.

In August I will be returning to TexSom, the Texas Sommelier Conference. At the conference they have the Texas Best Sommelier Competition. I plan on participating in that. Not that I’ll necessarily win, but it’s good practice for the Advanced Sommelier Exam. I also hope to attend the conference officially as Press. I always attend in my 1337 Wine capacity, but I’ve never had the Press credentials. I’d like to actually do some video reporting there, but that may no be possible. This is due to the nature of the conference and the hotel’s policies. However, I was able to interview Master Sommelier Craig Collins, so I might be able to do something similar this year.

As far as any other wine travel, I’m most likely not going to be able to do it. Travel is expensive as anyone knows. Operating the website and everything else associated with it costs a lot of money. I won’t go into how much a year I spend on the site and wine-related stuff, but I could easily take a very nice vacation every year instead of doing this. At some point I will have to make a trip out to Napa and Sonoma. Of course, other places in California will need to be visited in addition to Oregon and Washington. Just not this year.

Finally, I hope to continue to grow the audience of the show. I already average 500+ views per episode via the blip.tv player. On the ifood.tv site, I get the same, if not more in views with many of them being on their Roku channel. Between TiVo and Roku, I get quite a lot of views. And that’s why it has stayed a long format show rather than returning to a 10-minute show like it used to be. Most people are watching from their couch on a TV instead of on a computer.

Thanks to all of you who watch. I can’t express how much it means to me. I look forward to 2014 being a good year for 1337 Wine.


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